PERRYSVILLE — If there was one event that could guarantee to produce evidence to prove the existence of the elusive Bigfoot, it would be at the event planned this weekend at Pleasant Lake Hill Park.
Unless, of course, sasquatch is shy.
Hundreds of people are expected to show up for the inaugural Bigfoot Basecamp weekend scheduled Sept. 9 to 11.
“We anticipated selling out, but we didn’t realize it would be this soon (in August),” said Louis Andres, a park services specialist with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy’s Pleasant Hill Lake Park.
There will be a host of Bigfoot-related events, most of which are free to attend after a $15 per car entrance fee.
But the ticketed events — a VIP reception dinner and townhall with a Bigfoot celebrity and a pontoon-guided tour-turned-sasquatch-search on the lake — are all sold out.
Andres attributes the swollen excitement around the event to sightings of the ape-like figure that have been reported in the area over the last 18 months.
Bigfoot Basecamp joins a couple other established events focused on all-things sasquatch.
The Ohio Bigfoot Conference, for example, is a symposium that has been around since 2012. It took place in April earlier this year. Its website boasts the event has grown into the “premier Bigfoot conference” of the world, drawing thousands of people to Salt Fork State Park each year.
The Hocking Hills Bigfoot Festival just wrapped its first-ever event in early August.
What separates Bigfoot Basecamp from the rest, however, is the use of burgeoning technology that promise goers the possibility of seeing Bigfoot, or whatever else is in the woods that night.
On Friday, “We’ll have a drone with a thermal camera flying over the areas where there have been really good sightings. The people, for the first time ever, will be part of our team on the ground with thermal imagers,” said Matt Moneymaker, founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) and host of Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot,” a TV series that aired from May 2011 to May 2018.
According to Moneymaker’s BFRO database, there have been nine sightings in Ashland County since 1995, when the website was founded. Two of those sightings happened in 2021, one outside an Ashland gym and another in a field north of U.S. 30.
Ashland County is tied with Geauga and Jefferson counties for sixth when it comes to most sightings in Ohio. Portage County leads the state with 19.
Nationally, Ohio ranks number four in the most sightings with 318, behind California (459), Florida (337) and Washington (708), according to BFRO.
To Moneymaker, it makes perfect sense that Ohio ranks among the top 10 states in the U.S. for sasquatch sightings.
“Ohio has corn and deer. California’s terrain is not optimized for deer like it is in Ohio, making it an ideal habitat. It’s where a predator would find a good foundation and why I think there are so many sightings,” Moneymaker said, adding the Bigfoot — it’s believed — is omnivorous.
Andres said the event will provide a “safe place” for people who are interested in learning more about the mythical creature and allow them to share anecdotes that haven’t been reported because of stigma, Andres said.
“This will be a safe place for people to learn more, hear stories and get information on how to document their own (Bigfoot searching) activities,” he said.
Andres said he hopes to make Bigfoot Basecamp a yearly shindig and another funding source to the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy Foundation.
“All the proceeds from the event will go to the foundation, where we have a Pleasant Hill account used for recreational and educational programs,” he said.
For more information about the event, visit the website.